Farnborough Air Show — The United Kingdom, regarded by most as America’s closest ally, is pressing hard for improvements to the laws and regulations governing U.S. arms exports.
In an exclusive interview with DoD Buzz, the head of America’s most powerful defense and aerospace lobby, Marion Blakey, said Britain’s defense secretary made his country’s feelings on the subject very clear here. “It’s been three years [since the arms export treaty with Britain was proposed]. At this point we are losing patience,” she says he told her. Pass the treaty, “if you want our soldiers to stand with yours and have the right technology.” Blakey spoke with Fox Sunday night at a dinner for senior U.S. government and industry officials.
For several years a treaty that would ease the sale of weapons between the U.S. and the U.K. has wandered in the peculiar desert where treaties languish in the Senate. Blakey said there is a window this summer during which the treaty could get passed, but she did not sound very confident that it would. Several efforts over the last decade to make the arms export system more flexible, more transparent and more efficient have effected some change, but nowhere near enough to satisfy either the U.S. defense industry or America’s allies.
The Obama administration recently launched a wholesale effort to change the system and Blakey said the allies are encouraged by this. Change, Blakey noted, is needed to encourage allies investing in systems such as the Joint Strike Fighter. But as Fox made clear, there are limits to the patience of even our closest allies.